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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Ode to Brussels Sprout

Uploaded: Oct 16, 2014

Brussels sprout, Brussels sprout, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee for your crunch when I sauté you just slight.
I love thee for your warmth when the fall turns into night.
I love thee caramelized with crisp bacon and some parm.
I love thee halved and baked with maple syrup and Dijon.
Dearest Brussels sprout, you are so misunderstood.
Given another chance, you will love them, yes you would.

Brussels sprout season is upon us. They are being harvested in Half Moon Bay as we speak. I know, I know, the name is weird (why is it "Brussels" instead of "Brussel?"), and many of you are still recovering from being fed boiled Brussels as a child.

I feel your pain. Your hesitation to reconnect.

But times have changed and now we know Brussels sprouts don't relate to water very well. In fact, we have scientific proof!

So fears understood.

Answer? Keep water as far away from Brussels as possible and they become richly caramelized and sweet. Bake them, sauté, or live dangerously and do the him and the hers. Handle them right and they'll tell you their secrets.

Here's my favorite fast way to tame the beast. Tested many a time on disbelieving corporate types and Silicon Valley geeks who "hate Brussels sprouts, really?."

"Hey, but this one isn't that bad."

How do you like yours?


Maple Dijon Brussels Sprouts

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups slivered Brussels sprouts
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, combine mustard and maple syrup. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in medium sauté pan to medium high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and sauté, 4-5 minutes or until a brighter green with speckles of caramelized brown. If you want to add a touch of steam which can improve the results, give a few spritz with a spray bottle filed with water. Add in the maple dijon mixture to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce thicken and coat the veggies; this happens quickly. Stir and serve.

NOTE: Stop stirring so much. People stir, stir, stir. You want Brussels to brown / caramelize. So stir to incorporate the oil, and then put down the spoon. Let Brussels interact with the heat. Stir a few times during the cooking process, when you need to flip, meld flavors, or prevent burning. You want to achieve that fine balance between moisture (bright ish green) and caramelization. (light/dark brown)



Brussels growing in Half Moon Bay last week


If you slice them very thin ? doubters won't even know they are Brussels sprouts!

Don't be scaaaaarrrred - all comments entered to win a trip to the Fancy Food Show. Eat your way thru this culinary extravaganza and get interviewed on your favorite new trends. Winner announced Nov 27th.






Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Roasted, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Oct 16, 2014 at 11:09 am

I have been separating the leaves and roasting them. Really lovely but unfortunately they give me indigestion like this. Does anyone have a solution to this?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Oct 16, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Alan is a registered user.

It sounds tasty ... me or my wife should try cooking it sometime. I generally don't care for kale, but if it's prepared right, it's fantastic.

It's a good thing you didn't title your article, "Brussels Sprouts are good for 3 things ..."

Sorry. :)


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Oct 16, 2014 at 9:54 pm

LOL Alan! You are a Food Partier and now that you are here, the Party! has started.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Beatrix, a resident of another community,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 10:38 am

Ignorance of geography can be your Waterloo, I suppose.
Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by RW, a resident of another community,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 11:23 am

I boil them. But! Only for 2-3 minutes and then I put them in an ice bath to stop cooking. Then I cut them in half, put them cut side down under medium heat in a large frying pan and brown them. Then I pour some vinaigrette over them and eat.

Brussels Sprouts were cringe worthy when I was a kid. Kids just don't trust bitter foods! About 12 years ago, my brother took me out to dinner and said "lets get a side of Brussels Sprouts, try them again, you might like them". And he was wrong because I loved them!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Beatrix,

Yes Brussels is correct spelling. I suppose we should be pleased that nobody put an apostrophe before the S.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Alan is a registered user.

Alas, Beatrix and Resident - Brussels is in Flanders, the local language in Flanders is Flemish, which is a variant of Dutch, and the Dutch spell it "Brussel": Web Link . I don't know why it went plural on its way to English.

But that doesn't really help, because the Dutch call Brussels Sprouts "Spruitkool". But in Afrikaans, it's "Brusselspruit": Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by nasty, a resident of another community,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 7:39 pm

The only way I can eat them is if their innate flavor is completely buried. My sister-in-law takes the challenge every Christmas, and if that nasty taste comes through, I swallow, rinse, and say "Very nice." Enthusiasts tend to have recipes that include lots of strong flavors. Mustard and maple syrup are nice flavors. Why wreck them with Brussels sprouts?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Locavore, a resident of another community,
on Oct 17, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Love 'em! Roasted Brussels sprouts salad = a key fall food!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 18, 2014 at 12:57 am

'I know, I know, the name is weird (why is it "Brussels" instead of "Brussel?")'

Laura: Why on earth "weird?" Who thinks that? Do they find the name of Belgium's capital "weird" in other contexts too, or just this one? Why isn't it, rather, "weird" that some people lately drop the S on menus and supermarket shelf labels?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Oct 19, 2014 at 12:08 am

@Alan, when Belgium gained independence from the Netherlands in 1831, Brussels became the capital, and French was declared the official language (even though a majority were dutch speakers). The French call it Bruxelles, so maybe that's why the the plural pronunciation.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Oct 19, 2014 at 7:31 am

Interesting everyone. @Max Hauser - though I am quite fond of the letter "S," you must admit, there are a lot of them all crammed up in a small space. They get all gooped up in your tongue. Just try saying it five times fast.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Oct 19, 2014 at 8:51 pm

And make sure you say the last "s" on Brussels


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 20, 2014 at 10:10 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

But Laura, now you're going into how to say it. Your blog point was about how to _write_ it.

The blog implied that SPELLING an existing, repectable word (Brussels) maybe should be changed, just because some Americans find back-to-back S sounds inconvenient. No one claims spelling in English makes any sense -- but it's the way it is.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Oct 21, 2014 at 11:42 am

Alan is a registered user.

Max Hauser wrote: "The French call it Bruxelles, so maybe that's why the the plural pronunciation."

Alas - in French, the "s" is silent: Web Link . That's probably the trouble. They can talk about Brussels Sprouts all day long without tripping over their tongue.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Erin Glanville, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Oct 21, 2014 at 12:07 pm

A quick recommendation for those going down the coast: The Davenport Roadhouse (half way between HMB and Santa Cruz) is absolutely terrific. In particular, they have a caramelized brussels sprouts appetizer that my husband and I got that was out of this world; so much so that we got a second order!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Annette, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Brussels Sprouts are one of my favorites! I discovered them in college 30 years ago when my boyfriend bought them on the stalk at the farmer's market in San Luis Obispo. He wanted to show me the "real" Brussels Sprouts. I had only experienced brown mushiness from the frozen section of the market. We took them home and he sauteed them beautifully. I was hooked. I still love buying them on the stalk.

Now at holidays my family knows that if there are Brussels Sprouts in the house, I am in town. And while there was always dissing of the Brussels Sprouts at the holiday meal, the serving dish would be empty at the end.

My new favorite way to eat them is in a salad. Can't recall the source of the recipe, and I tend not to measure ingredients, so these are approximates. It has gotten compliments for its "brightness".
Kale Brussels Sprouts Salad

1 bunch kale- cut in short ribbons
2 big handfuls Brussels Sprouts- cut in ribbons
chopped raw almonds or raw hazelnuts
dash sea salt

Tahini-maple dressing

4 tbs raw tahini
2 tbs cider vinegar or lemon
2 tbs white miso
1 tbs maple syrup
pinch of red pepper flakes
water for desired thinness

Thanks for the post, Laura. You have me craving cruciferous.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Alan: 'Max Hauser wrote: "The French call it Bruxelles. . .'

Actually "Mr. Recycle" wrote that. (Credit where due!)

The French omit pronunciation of many S's (Les Halles comes out like "lay-yall") but they wouldn't have this problem regardless, since their term for Brussels sprouts is choux de Bruxelles -- Brussels cabbages -- much more descriptive too, since that's what they are, small cabbages. Small and intense, useful in the same ways as big cabbages, and more.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Oct 21, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Erin and Annette, Party! people. Thanks for the tips!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Oct 21, 2014 at 9:38 pm

And to all the linguistic musicstians as well. I learn much from you.
You keep me honest.



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